LIVE AND LET DIE (1973). Director: Guy Hamilton.
Always one of the lesser Bond flicks, this pic has improved with age, although it will never be top-drawer Bond. The first half is quite good, both suspenseful and intriguing, but then it briefly turns into a Smoky and the Bandit clone with way too much screen time given over to a fat, supposedly comical Southern sheriff trying to get a handle on a boat chase between Bond and his Black pursuers. The movie never quite recovers from this, winding up with a so-so climax in an underground grotto. Jane Seymour as Solitaire and Yaphet Kotto as Dr. Kananga (he merely masquerades as the novel's Mr. Big in this) are comparatively colorless and make little impression; Gloria Hendry does better as Big's double agent. Kananga is in the heroine trade instead of smuggling Bloody Morgan's treasure as in the novel. Never as thrilling as it could have been, but not awful; the only stand-out sequence, however, is when Bond is cornered by a bunch of hungry gators. Quarrel's son, Quarrel Jr., shows up to lend a hand (in the book it was Quarrel himself, but he was killed off in the first Bond movie, Dr. No). In his first outing as James Bond, Roger Moore is excellent. The photography is first-rate as well. The theme song by Paul McCartney is fairly wretched. The novel's best sequences wound up in later Bond movies. NOTE: To read a review of the novel by Ian Fleming, click here.
Verdict: Mediocre Bond. **.